Contrasting Views

Episode 144 of The Far Middle falls just after Presidents’ Day 2024. Accordingly, Nick notes a few U.S. presidents that are underrated, overrated, and a pair he continues to enjoy learning about.

Connecting from Presidents’ Day to this installment’s sports dedication, Nick revisits President Jimmy Carter spearheading the boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. Nick examines the many geopolitical dynamics of the boycott that resulted from the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Interestingly, the boycott—a move to force the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan—came just after the U.S. beat the Soviets in Lake Placid in the “Miracle on Ice,” which you can hear more about in prior Far Middle episode 80.

Drawing on themes and issues surrounding the 1980 Summer Games boycott, Nick moves to present day and explores the contrasting views of “elites” versus those of average Americans on several economic, social, and political issues.

Nick first highlights a comment from Jamie Dimon, who recently called out the insulated progressive elites in a CNBC interview, before next analyzing the results of a sobering poll by RMG Research for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.

That poll, “Them vs. U.S.: The Two Americas and How the Nation’s Elite Is Out of Touch with Average Americans,” offers interesting to shocking to frightening insights on America’s elite demographic.

Of those many insights, Nick calls out that “almost 50 percent of elites believe that America provides too much individual freedom. And meanwhile, 60 percent of voters believe that there’s too much government control. That’s what you call contrasting views.” He also highlights elites’ views of climate change, restating a frequent Far Middle topic that “climate change policies have nothing to do about atmospheric levels of CO2, and they’ve got everything to do with control of the individual across society and economy.”

Unfortunately, the poll results offer a validation of the themes and arguments Nick makes in Precipice: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy America.

“Although I wrote that book years ago, looking at where the minds of elites are today and how they are driving Western societies, they serve as proof points for the hypothesis laid out in Precipice…I wish Precipice would have been a false alarm, but instead, what’s going on in America, is definitely not a drill,” says Nick.

Referencing his discussion on the broken state of college and academia described in Precipice, Nick connects to academia’s unwillingness to reform, using Henderson State University in Arkansas as an example. This leads to a broader look at the societal value of a four-year college degree today, which “has never been worth less.”

Moving from elites in academia, Nick discusses elites in bureaucracy, specifically former National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, who “was as bad as it got when it came to running over science and individual rights to justify draconian pandemic policies.”

In closing, Nick flips the conversation to a positive side, telling the story of Pittsburgh’s Paul Mawhinney, his record store Record-Rama, and his three-million-plus record collection.